Many guinea pig owners know their pets seriously need to have daily exercise outside their cage in order to stay in better health. Building or buying a safe indoor run is a great option for allowing guinea pigs the space they need to really run around, exercise, keep their minds occupied and stay fitter.

But did you know about the concept of ‘free range’ guinea pigs? Some guinea pig owners have gone that little bit further in allowing their pets that freedom – by giving them their own room.

If you have a room you can turn over to ‘guinea pig command’ for some time each day, this is a fantastic way to get to know your guinea pigs better as you go about your daily tasks at home. If you don’t have the luxury of having a whole room to turn over to the furry angels, you may still be able to enlarge how much space they get by partitioning off part of a room just for their use each day. But you do need to know how to do it safely…

Tips for giving your guinea pig the ‘free range life’

One way to do it is by adapting storage unit grids you may have heard of for building their cages with – Cubes and Coroplast kits. You fix the metal grids together using cable ties and voila, instant partition panelling. Expert guinea pig enthusiasts recommend making sure the spaces in the grid squares are not more than 1.5 inches across to avoid guinea pigs becoming trapped and injured (or worse) in the squares.

Think about how you can clean up after occasional urine and droppings – although they don’t make a lot, protect prized carpets with newspaper. Ensure tiling is not too slippery for their delicate feet to grip on.

Block off any tight spaces they could squeeze themselves into and get stuck – even if it looks too small, you’d be surprised what they can squeeze into. Remove all electrical wiring from where they will be – they have been known to chew through live wires. Anything they chew can create small parts that could injure them externally or if swallowed. Some household cleaning products and even houseplants will be poisonous to them. You can check online for ideas on what might harm your guinea pig with charities such as the USA’s ASPCA.

Give them that all important ‘hidey place’ to scurry away to – they have a natural instinct to hide and it makes them feel secure. It’s possible to buy these in pet stores, check for chemicals that might have treated the wood or chewable bits that could create injury. Another top tip is placing an old bathmat in one corner to make a secure ‘home base’ for them.

You will definitely need to be aware of who and what is around in the house at all times. This includes:

Other pets – although they may seem to get along just fine, animals are instinctual creatures. A normally placid pet dog, for example, may get a notion one day to chase or attack a guinea pig.

Children – need to learn good animal handling and be supervised by an adult at all times. They may want to ‘cuddle’ the guinea pig but sadly perhaps accidentally drop it causing serious injury, or feed it harmful foods.

Toys – some experts warn not all toys marketed for guinea pigs are safe – quite incredibly, some have been known to have small parts that came off through chewing and caused nasty injuries. However, toys can provide mental stimulation and familiarity, so do your research online as to which products are currently deemed appropriate. The enormous pet products market is constantly changing. If your vet is experienced in working with guinea pigs, they may be able to give you the lowdown on some brand names. Or take advice from an expert guinea pig welfare charity. One theme that is reiterated on many guinea pig care factsheets and forums is to avoid large exercise balls and exercise wheels. Theses aren’t suited to guinea pigs bodies and may cause serious injuries.

By yanam49

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